Souvenirs are going to be part of most Walt Disney World vacations. There are gift shops everywhere! You’ll find things for sale in your hotel, as you get off of a ride, and at stores across all of the parks. If that wasn’t enough, there are also kiosks selling merch where there isn’t a shop. It is way too easy to spend more than you expected on souvenirs, especially when all you have to do is pull out a card or swipe your MagicBand. Avoid a shocking credit card bill and use these six tips to save money on souvenirs.
6. Ask About Discounts
If you’re an Annual Passholder, you’ll save at least 10% at many shops, including a good number of the stores in the parks. Some families will buy one Annual Pass just so that they can enjoy that and other benefits. (With free theme park parking, some dining discounts, and Memory Maker included, it might be worth thinking about.) Disney Vacation Club Members also receive discounts at some stores, so if you belong make sure you ask. Another way to get discounts at some stores is to spend at least $50 on your Disney Visa Card. There are two card options, and the Rewards Card has no annual fee. There is an annual fee with the Premier Card.
5. Look Elsewhere
If you plan on spending one day outside of the parks while you’re in Central Florida, you might want to consider taking a shopping trip for at least part of it. You can find all kinds of Disney souvenirs in the shops on Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway (Route 192) and International Drive. You’ll find Disney and Florida items in department stores, in grocery stores, in gas stations, in restaurants, and of course in the numerous gift shops. The prices will be less than you’d pay in the parks, and there is a great selection. If you’re planning on buying souvenirs for people back home, you can save a lot of money by shopping off Disney property. Your friends will be glad that you thought of them, and they don’t have to know that you bought that cool hat in a gift shop with a giant wizard on the roof.
4. Buy Only Special Items
It is all too easy to go crazy when you see the amount of merchandise that you can buy at a Walt Disney World gift shop. Your kids might also want one of everything. Don’t buy anything that you can find in a store back home. Plush animals are nice, but unless it’s a plush that you can’t find elsewhere you’re going to pay too much for it at Disney. The same goes for many of the toys, you can find them for less back home. Another place where people waste money is on light-up items. Unless the light-up toy is specific to Walt Disney World, it is probably not necessary. Light-up items are also the type of things that are played with for a little while, and then tossed aside and forgotten. You will save a lot of money if all the souvenirs that you buy are special and unique.
3. Set a Limit
It’s all too easy to leave Central Florida with a suitcase full of T-shirts, jackets, and hats that you didn’t have before your vacation. You’ll want to buy a new shirt for each ride, and of course there are so many different types of Mickey Ears that you will want to buy several. Set a limit before you leave home of how much can be bought each day, and let your whole family know what that limit is. For example, you might want to allow one T-shirt per family member per day. You could also add two pairs of Mickey Ears during your vacation; one on the first day and a different design on the middle day. If you have a limit and stick with it, you’ll end up buying the souvenirs that you really want, and your whole family will be happy with their purchases.
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2. Set a Budget
The simplest way to save money on souvenirs is to set a souvenir budget and stick to it. One great way to do that is to put away your credit card and buy Disney Gift Cards instead. Buy one card for each day of your vacation. If you have something left on a card at the end of the day you can use that later, but never borrow from the cards that are for days to come. You can also buy gift cards for the kids (if they are old enough) and tell them how much they are for. They can then budget for their own souvenirs. Disney Dollars will work for that as well, but some children like the characters on those so much that they don’t want to turn them in. They can keep a gift card, even if there is no money left on it. Make sure that the kids realize that they are not getting more money than is on a card. Be strong when they use the puppy face at you.
1. Don’t Impulse Buy
The easiest way to spend too much on souvenirs is to impulse buy. There are temptations around every corner at Walt Disney World. You faced your fear and rode Tower of Terror, and you want the T-shirt to remember it by. Your niece would look so cute in those Minnie mittens. Your two-year-old left his stuffed animals at home, so a new stuffed Donald might make him happy. Look, bubbles! Impulse buying will add up quickly, especially if you’re charging everything. Save souvenir buying until the end of the day, right before you leave the park. Make a mental note of the things that you might want to purchase, and return to the store at the end of the day. Only purchase the items that you really want after spending hours in the park. You’ll make better decisions if you don’t impulse buy, and you will save a lot of money.